Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Road running

This is an especially hectic time of year, although to be honest, there really isn't ANY time of year that isn't hectic. But, with our JBR race in Arizona in March and our big race in Columbus, Ohio in April there isn't much time to rest.

I was able to get to the gym and get in a solid 4 mile run before I took off for Columbus. I've been trying to do some upper and lower body weight training too, so I managed some abductor and adductor sets [I'm still not sure which is which or what they do - but Coach says I need it so that's good enough for me], and a few leg lifts and leg presses.

Today [Wednesday] has been taken up with media and pre-race stuff but I was able to sneak in a quick 35 minute run/walk around my business partner's neighborhood. I'm making a greater effort to get in a run even if it's a short one. In the past I would have just "skipped" the run, but that wasn't working AT ALL for me.

It will be hard to get anything in for the next few days, but I'm going to try.


ORN: March 28: 4 miles, treadmill, 5/1 at 10:30 pace
ORN: March 29: 35 minutes, outdoors, 3/2 VERY easy

Monday, March 27, 2006

An uphill battle

I'm trying to increase the number of days that I do something. With the travel schedule it's easy to suddenly discover that I've only had 3 days of running in a given week. I've got to find a way to get some activity in MOST days.

After the hard hill run on Saturday and the long-ish 90 minute run on Sunday, today needed to be a non-impact day. My choice was to hit the treadmill and do some "incline" walking. My focus was on trying to get my heart-rate up to about the same place it is when I do an "easy" run. For me, that's somewhere around 130 bpm.

After a 5 minute warmup, I start with a 0 incline 4 mph pace and then add one degree of incline every minute. Then, I'll go back to zero incline at a 4.2 mph pace and move the incline up every minute. Then, 0 incline at 4.4 mph and so on.

I finished it off with 20 minutes on the stationary bike [hey, the weather has GOT to get warmer some day] and a light weight circuit and steam. Good stuff. I felt much better when it was over than when I started.


ORN: 25 minutes "incline" workout on the treadmill. 20 minute "step" workout on the stationary bike. Upper body weights.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Taste of Spring

Oh my, my, my. I hope today's weather is the harbinger of spring. I don't think I can stand to be teased by the warmer weather one more time.

If was a glorius Sunday morning in Chicago. The kind of morning that begs you to get outside and do something. It doesn't matter what; running, cycling, walking, playing soccer. You just HAVE to get outside.

The running path was littered with runners, like me, who were feeling the first real juices of Spring coursing through their veins. The cyclist were out in their multi-colored spandex, the dog-walkers were out in their spring jackets and hats, and the runners were out in everything from tights and jackets to shorts and short-sleeved t-shirts.

These are the day we live for in the heart of a cold winter.


ORN: 90 minutes, easy, 4/2

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Big Man on Campus

They say you can never go home again. Maybe you can't, but you can go back and pick up the lost pieces of your past.

On Friday and Saturday I was back on my undergraduate campus, Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, to speak, to socialize, and to run. Among the highlights was meeting with the track and cross-country team of John's Hill Elementary School. Imagine, me, speaking to a group of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade runners!

I wasn't sure what to talk to them about, but all of a sudden what came out was the story of Steve Jones missing the world's record in Chicago by just a few seconds. And his reaction to that. And about how some people would have seen that as a failure, but not Steve. He ran true to himself and that's all that matter.

And then what came out [and by this time I'm just along for the ride] was that there is a big difference between failure and defeat. We all fail. But we don't have to be defeated. And, I told them, it will be their reaction to failure that will determine the outcome of their lives. If they use failure to fuel them, to energize them, to create the fever to go on, then they will never be defeated.

It all sounded pretty good to me. And they seemed interested!

Saturday morning the Decatur Running Club put on the "Penguin in the Park 5K" and I got to see what it's like to be a part of a small, local, running community. It was fantastic. And I finished in the top 115 finishers! [As you can imagine, there weren't many behind me!]

All-in-all a great time.


ORN: 5K, 34:55, 10/1

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Leader of the Pack

Probably THE most fun I have is helping new - or REnewed - runners and walkers discover the joy of the activity. Tonight I helped Jenny with the Nike/Chicago Endurance Sports training program for the Soldier Field 10 mile run.

We train out of Fleet Feet Sports in "Old Town" Chicago which means the run goes along the lakefront path. It was one of those spectacular late winter/early spring nights where the sky is pitch black and clear and the city lights are bright and reflecting off the lake. It is still one of the most beautiful runs anywhere.

I lead a group of 8 new runners on a 45 minute run/walk. They're always nervous when we start out but quickly figure out that we're gonna have fun. We run "two-by-two" and rotate so that everyone has a chance to set the pace. In no time at all the group bonded and we were just a bunch of new friends running along the lake in the dark. It is amazing.

It's for these moments that I run.


ORN: 45 minutes, 3/2

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Mix and Match

The excitement about running is coming back in giant waves. The problem now is figuring out where to point all of this enthusiasm.

Running long and slow - which I like to do - makes you very good at running long and slow. There's nothing wrong with that, but there's more to being a runner than just running long and slow. Even for a Penguin.

I didn't have any choice for the six months leading up to Disney. Almost everything I did was long and slow. Now that I'm liberated from that - and I haven't even thought about another marathon - I'm playing with what kind of training I want to do.

My decision, for now, is to focus are sharpening up my running form. I've gotten really sloppy and I just want to spend a few months working on the fundamentals: foot strike, turnover, arms, etc. So that's the plan.


ORN: Monday, 5 miles, 4/2, 65 minutes. I wanted to get some easy mileage in. I kept the pace down and mixed in plenty of walking.

Tuesday, 3 mile time trial with 1/4 mile warm up and cool down. This is a little different for me. I set the treadmill speed at 10:30 and ran a mile, then walked a minuted, ran a mile, etc., for three miles. I don't normally go that long without walking but I wanted to see if I could relax into a "groove".

Monday, March 20, 2006

Better than ever

Yeah baby! It's coming back.

I knew it would happen, I just wasn't sure when. Someone who likes to run as much as I do just can't stay unmotivated forever. I've spent many hours wondering about why it's been so hard to get fired up. I think, maybe, the ugly half-marathon was a part of it. But, I had a great full marathon, so how do you explain that?

The key to running for the rest of your life, it seems to me, is never hating what you're doing. Each of us has to decide what that means. If you like speed work, do speed work. If you HATE it, don't. If you like LONG runs, great. If you don't, don't go long. It doesn't seem any more complicated than that.

I had lots to do on Sunday so I got up early and headed to the gym BEFORE I got started on my day. This is unusual for me. I'm not a morning runner. Maybe because it was Sunday and the gym was nearly empty I was feeling pretty "special" about being there and getting in my run.

And it was fantastic. And I can't wait to run again today.


ORN: Sunday, March 19: 4 miles, treadmill, 5/1. Mile 1, 10:40 pace. Mile 2, 10:31 pace. Mile 3, 10.20 pace. Mile 4, 10:09 pace.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

One wrong step

It's easier to give advice than it is to take your own. I'm as vulnerable to runner's denial as anyone else. It's not a quality that I admire in myself, I just know that it's there.

On Tuesday I took a funny step in the transition between the paved path and the gravel. I felt my ankle twist pretty hard, with enough pain to make me wince. Of course, I didn't stop running. I didn't turn around and go home and ice it. I finished my run.

The ankle was tender - to say the least - on Tuesday night. Wednesday morning it was better, but not what you would call right. So - and here's the runner's denial part - I decided to go to the gym and run on the treadmill just to see if it was OK.

See the problem?? I should have stayed off the foot. I should have given it a day to heal. I should have - but I didn't. I ran 4 miles instead. I got through it - honest, I would have stopped if it had REALLY hurt - but that doesn't make it right!


ORN: 4 miles, treadmill, 5/1 in 48 minutes.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Running it off

Sometimes I just need to run. Even in a good life there are days when frustration and confusion can cloud your outlook. In the old days [or back in the day as they now say] I would medicate with booze, or cigarettes, or food. Or, on too many occasions, all three.

These days I'm trying to stay calmer and more positive in general. Most days I'm well aware that I don't have much to complain about. I'm doing what l love to do and am able to cobble together a living doing it. So far so good.

But, there are those days.

So I ran. I ran my loop. I ran along my lakefront. I saw the sights that center me. I saw other runners. I ran harder than I normally would. I wanted to clear my lungs as a means of clearing my head. And it almost worked. Almost.

I'll need to run again tomorrow.


ORN: 50 minutes, 5/1 with 5 min warm up and cool down.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Aftermath

One of the best things about life right now is putting on our own races. This weekend was the 2nd Arizona Distance Classic. We have a half marathon and a 5K.

The race is in Oro Valley, Arizona, just northwest of Tucson. Springtime in the desert is usually cool, but not cold, and dry. Last year the temperature was in the 50's at race start and mid-70's as the final finisher came across the line. This year, it was a very different story.

The Friday and Saturday leading up to race day were cold, wet, and windy. The forecast for the night before the race called for SNOW in the upper elevations and rain everywhere else. At 3:00 AM on race morning, as we were setting out the aid stations, the rain was coming down and it was right on that line between rain and snow. All of us were concerned.

We knew that the race would go - rain or shine - so we had no choice but to keep setting up the start/finish structure, the tents, the VIP area, and everything else that you need to put on a race. By 5:00 the rain had begun to let up some. By 6 it was dry and there was even some hope of sunshine.

By 7:00 the sun was peaking through the clouds and the Santa Catalina Mountains has a coating of snow on them. To say it was beautiful misses the point. It was - well - magical.

The particiants took off on a nearly perfect race morning with cool temperatures and nearly no wind. The views along the course were enough to stop you in your tracks. I can't imagine a more perfect day.


ORN: I did get in some running, by the way. Friday morning I retreated to the health club and got in a solid 4 miles on the treadmill. This morning, on very tired legs, I managed 50 minutes on the roads.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Short but sweet

ORN: March 9, 2006, Tucson, Arizona
35 minutes, 5/1, VERY hilly

After the long flight from Chicago I was eager to just get out and run. The only place close to the hotel was a hilly [HILLY] loop. But, it was better than not getting out.

It made be realize that I should be doing hill work on a more regular basis. It's a great way to get your heart rate up without risking pushing your body too hard. It's good. I need to do more.

We're here for our Arizona Distance Classic weekend. The weather's not what we had hoped for, but it is what it is.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The comeback trail

ORN: 4 miles, 48 minutes, 5/1, treadmill

It was warm enough to go outside today. In fact, here in Chicago, there was the feel of spring. But, I chose to stay inside and crank out the miles on the treadmill.

One, I was testing a new pair of shoes and wanted to be able to stop if they bothered me and second, I've found that I need to run on the treadmill some just to keep myself honest.

I think I'm finally over the Goofy slump. And I'm glad for that. I'll really have to think hard about doing that again considering how if affected me.

This weekend is the big JBR race in Tucson. I'm really excited about the way the race is shaping up. It's still a pretty small race for us - call it a boutique half marathon - but I'll get to spend time with nearly every participant. You can find out more at


Monday, March 06, 2006

Running Pain Free

ORN: 50 minutes, 5/1. Lakefront path

It didn't occur to me until about the middle of today's run, but nothing hurts. Nothing. I'm not one to run with "pain", but with the training mileage I was doing last fall and winter I will admit that I had a few aches.

So, maybe my body really DOES know best. I just haven't been ready to start doing any serious running since Disney. Maybe now I know why. My body was telling me that it needed time to get fully healed. And guess what? It is.

It sounds crazy. And you would think that I would have figured this out before now. But I didn't.


Sunday, March 05, 2006


And I thought winter was nearly over!

I'm just getting back from Calgary where I attended the University of Calgary Running Symposium. What an amazing weekend. I heard some excellent presentations on nutrition, injury prevention, running for the baby boomers, and how to train like a professional athlete. Oh, and yeah, I talked a little bit myself.

We had a fun run on Friday night, in the COLD, wind, and SNOW. I've been gone so much this winter that I haven't had to do ANY runs in that kind of weather. It went well. I found a couple of other participants who were willing to run along with me at we chatted it up.

I still haven't gotten back in the groove. I'm hoping that this past weekend will be just the jolt I need to get fired up. Sooner or later I'm going to have to start training again.